Many of the states that ended federally funded unemployment benefits early (see full list) are now facing several legal challenges (lawsuits) that has meant a reconsideration of the early termination and in some cases a continuation of benefits past the state Governor’s prescribed early end date.
The general argument’s being put forward are due to physical impairments (e.g. a respiratory issues or weakened immune systems) due to COVID-19 or that the state has overreached its bounds by not paying out approved federal funding for local constituents. Further because of the fast spreading Delta variant spreading many in low vaccination states they are even more vulnerable now to getting deathly sick.
State Legal Actions and Lawsuits – Status and Updates
In Maryland, the DUI will continue paying ALL federally funded unemployment benefits for the next 2 weeks to over 300,000 unemployed residents after the state lost several court battles to end the programs early on July 3rd. Unemployed residents successfully filed class action lawsuits against Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, and won a short-term reprieve to keep benefits going till mid-July.
In Indiana, where benefits ended early, a state judge’s ruling had supported unemployed workers legal claims it was unlawful for the state to end benefit payments early for roughly 230,000 Hoosiers. However the judge did not reinstate benefit payments pass the Governor’s directive date (June 19th).
State Governors like DeSantis and Abbot have repeatedly argued the extended unemployment benefits (especially the $300 weekly boost) were incentivizing people not to work amid complaints from business leaders that they were struggling to hire workers.
Ohio and Oklaoma unemployed groups have also filed cases recently and are pending rulings. In Ohio, $300 payments are still being held back as County Judge, Michael Holbrook, is reviewing other factors and will issue a new decision in coming weeks. If the lawsuit is successful retroactive benefits will be paid.
Iowa has also seen lawyers file class-action lawsuits claiming that Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision to end enhanced unemployment benefits for tens of thousands of residents violated state law and to reinstate and retroactively pay unemployment benefits.
Tennessee also has a 2000 strong claimant/advocate group (Tennesseans Against Ending Benefits) that have filed a lawsuit against Governor Lee, claiming that unemployed workers want to work, but have physical impairments or weakened immune systems that keep them from doing so.
Favorable rulings to date are only temporary, but do show some of these challenges could have legal merit and keep extended unemployment benefits in place till the official September 4th extension. Further, if the lawsuits are even successful after the early expiry/termination dates, retroactive benefits will have to be paid.
However it is unlikely that there will be a broad overturning across other states ending benefits early as the White House and the US Secretary of Labor have already indicated that governors can legally discontinue enhanced unemployment benefits.
Leave a comment or more information if you know of other lawsuits taking place against the early end of federal unemployment programs.